The Old Guard and the New Media

January 8th, 2008

There has been a lot written lately – as there always is at the beginning of a new year – about change.  That’s especially true in the PR world in 2008.  Ogilvy announced today that it’s laying off 50-100 people in its New York office “primarily because the nature of the business is changing.” BullDog Reporter  had this last week: Untangling New Media: Now Could Be PR’s Greatest Era of Opportunity in 100 Years; PRWeek had this: Editors’ Choice 2008: The Change Agent; and Entrepreneur chimed in with this: Redefining Public Relations in 2008.

With all this change – with the blogs and podcasts and direct-to-the-public video news releases – what are traditional, black and white print, “Get me a story!” newsroom reporters thinking?

A new survey of U.S. journalists gives us some insight.  Jerry Johnson – head of strategic planning at Brodeur  (the communications firm that conducted the survey) – said at the CES show in Las Vegas this week: “While only a small percentage of journalists feel that blogs are helpful in generating sources or exclusives, they do see blogs as particularly useful in helping them better understand the context of a story, a new story angle, or a new story idea. It appears that reporters are using blogs more for ethnographic research than they are for investigative research.”



The survey also uncovered several additional attitudes and behaviors (from the Brodeur press release):
-Blogs are a regular source for journalists. Over three quarters of reporters see blogs as helpful in giving them story ideas, story angles and insight into the tone of an issue.

-Nearly 70 percent of all reporters check a blog list on a regular basis. Over one in five (20.9%) reporters said they spend over an hour per day reading blogs. And a total of nearly three in five (57.1%) reporters said they read blogs at least two to three times a week.

-Journalists are increasingly active participants in the blogosphere. One in four reporters (27.7%) have their own blogs and nearly one in five (16.3%) have their own social networking page. About half of reporters (47.5%) say they are “lurkers” – reading blogs but rarely commenting.

-The majority of journalists thought blogs were having a significant impact on news reporting in all areas tested EXCEPT in the area of news quality. The biggest impact has been in speed and availability of news. Over half said that blogs were having a significant impact on the “tone” (61.8%) and “editorial direction” (51.1%) of news reporting.

The bottom line? Reporters are people just like the rest of us.  They read blogs, they write blogs and yes, they even find blogs helpful.

So while those of us in the PR industry continue to adapt to this world of new media, we can be confident that reporters (whose attention and consideration keep us in business) are doing the same.

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